Famed food writer Jane Stern, author of more than 30 books including the best-selling and beloved RoadFood series, will teach a course Special Topics: Food Writing at Gateway Community College beginning in January. Stern said it may just be the “first really democratic food writing course” - open to anyone who has a particular passion about food and would like to find a voice and a mode of expression for writing about it.
The one pre-requisite: “You have to have eaten food in your lifetime.” Students don’t have to be chefs, amateur or otherwise; they don’t have to have read the last dozen issues of Gourmet magazine either. They simply have to want to tell stories about food. “I am a food writer. I am not a chef. Every pie crust I’ve ever made looks like a saddle,” she laughed.
“I’m just incredibly excited to be teaching this course at Gateway because I think when food writing is taught at universities, it’s a very elitist thing. It pre-supposes that students know everything there is to know about food, food history, organic food, farm-to-table, all the buzzwords,” Stern said. “I’m looking for students who aren’t going to be spouting what everyone else is spouting. Instead, they can go back to their roots, to the cooking they loved and to tell their stories.”
Special Topics: Food Writing will be offered at GCC on Tuesdays from 5:15 p.m. to 8:05 p.m. It is an English course for credit. Aspiring restaurant critics, food bloggers, story tellers, people looking to break into the non-fiction market, those who simply want to find a way to write about food will all find a place in her classroom, Stern said. With the ever-expanding social media market and a growing need for content, talented food writers are in demand.
Stephen Fries, GCC professor and Coordinator of Hospitality Management Programs said, “To have someone of Jane Stern’s stature teaching food writing at Gateway is amazing. We are very fortunate.”
Stern has been writing about food for almost 40 years. She and her former husband Michael Stern are long-time collaborators and continue to write together. “Back in the `70’s, when you wrote about food it had to be about New York or Paris or Italy,” Stern said. But researching what became the first of many books that blended the worlds of food and travel, the Sterns meandered along back roads; stopped in at diners and tiny restaurants. Delicious food and intriguing recipes could be found all over the small towns of America. Stories were abundant too. “That’s where I want to start. I want to start with the students’ stories about food,” Stern said.
Fries said it will be quite an experience for students to learn from Stern. In addition to the more than 30 books about food, travel and popular culture, she has written a memoir, Ambulance Girl: How I Saved Myself by Becoming an EMT, which was made into a television movie starring Kathy Bates. Jane & Michael Stern’s www.Roadfood.com: interactive website averages more than four million page views a month and has been selected as “Site of the Year” by Yahoo.com. The Sterns have written for The New Yorker, Gourmet and The Atlantic Monthly and they appear weekly on NPR's "The Splendid Table." Winners of a James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award, they have also been inducted into the Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America.
Writing about food is always interesting, Stern said, and challenging too. “The best food writing is never generic; it is personal. It doesn’t matter if you are writing about a hamburger or the most cutting edge molecular cuisine; you have to seduce the reader into being as excited as you are to read more.”
The late Nora Ephron explained the writing of Jane and Michael Stern in this way in a 2006 New York Times book review, “I love Jane and Michael Stern. They write about ordinary food so simply and so exuberantly that I couldn’t help thinking, as I read this latest book of theirs (their 31st), that they deserve a room of their own in the Smithsonian Institution, right next to Julia Child’s Cambridge kitchen.”
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About Gateway Community College
Gateway Community College is one of the state’s fastest growing community colleges and the 10th largest institution of higher education in Connecticut. GCC offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs and serves more than 11,000 credit and non-credit students each year. GCC serves students in 24 towns and cities in the greater New Haven area, including: Ansonia, Bethany, Branford, Bridgeport, Cheshire, Clinton, Derby, East Haven, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Meriden, Middletown, Milford, New Haven, North Branford, North Haven, Orange, Seymour, Shelton, Stratford, Wallingford, West Haven and Woodbridge. For more information, visit www.GatewayCT.edu.